The Blues will return home to Scottrade tonight to take on the Anaheim Ducks. This will be first major professional sporting event in the city of St Louis since the unfortunate passing of Cardinals’ outfielder Oscar Taveras.
The Ducks come into tonight with a record of 8-2-0 and currently sit atop the Western Conference with 16 points. In their previous game, Anaheim goalie John Gibson was nothing short of incredible, as he denied all 38 shots he faced, including all five on power plays against him on his way to shutting out the Chicago Blackhawks, 1-0.
Anaheim is led by forward Corey Perry, who is the current league leader in goals scored with nine. Teammate Ryan Getzlaf currently sits fourth in the NHL with nine assists.
The last time these two teams locked up was in Anaheim on October 19th. The Blues would get shutout in the contest thanks in large part to Frederik Andersen, who was a wall. Andersen saved all 28 shots the Blues put on net.
On the flip side, St Louis has been playing very well as of late, winning their last two in a row. In their last game, Tuesday, the Blues beat the Dallas Stars in overtime in a game that appeared to be Vladimir Tarasenko’s coming out party. The 22 year old Russian put together his best game of his young career, going off for a hat trick and racking up another assist, giving him the team lead in points (9) and plus/minus (5). Rookie center Jori Lehtera played a solid game as well. He was good for a goal and two assists.
Captain David Backes was knocked out of Tuesday’s game after a hit by Trevor Daley. TJ Oshie was also banged up in the Dallas game when he was pushed from behind, crashing head first into the goal post. Oshie and Backes are both ruled out of tonight’s game with concussions and are listed as day-to-day.
Vladi the Tank. Vladimir Tarasenko’s hat trick Tuesday was his first of his career, and those three goals launched him to second on the team in that category, trailing only Jaden Schwartz.
TJ Oshie. It’s very uncharacteristic of the Olympic hero do go through a rut like this. Through eight games, Oshie has only tallied a single assist. Some of that could be due to the struggles of former line-mate Alexander Steen, who only racked up one goal before moving lines.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Lehtera-Tarasenko-Steen line. It’s just a matter of time before a player of Steen’s caliber opens it up. Playing with two exceptional passers in Tarasenko and Lehtera, look for Steen to have some good looks at the net tonight. Steen is no slouch with the puck either. He was good for 29 assists last season. Any of the three on this line can burn a goalie. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Ken Hitchcock keep this line together when Paul Stastny returns to the lineup.
Tonight is a good chance for St Louis to creep up in the western conference standings. The puck drops at 7 PM CST and can be seen on FS-MW, or heard on KMOX 1120.
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